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Unidentified loose part in my case


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#1 Christina9713

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Posted 06 October 2016 - 06:05 PM

Update: It was part of a fan (https://youtu.be/IZ3NPkHGs94?t=12s) - but I could use some advice. The GPU (Nvidia Geforce GTX 660) now seems to be nonfunctional without that peg in the fan -- after a couple minutes of gaming it shut down the whole PC, which wouldn't boot for a good 45 minutes, only to have ominous disc errors after  :( How critical is this case fan to my PC - is it safe to keep running the PC with the peg out, using the onboard graphics until I replace my GPU? (Considering this http://www.geforce.com/hardware/desktop-gpus/geforce-gtx-950/specifications) (Was after an upgrade for a while, don't worry)

The computer is 3-4 years old, and I'm considering the cost of getting this problematic little fan repaired in a shop, vs. just holding off and saving up for a new PC (or preferably just getting a new graphics card for now)
 

Hi, let me start off by identifying myself as one of "those" folks with no real business having their hands inside a PC. I'm also typing this from a phone, so I apologize if I am too brief - I will try to provide as much info as I can. My PC is an Alienware x51 (beyond that, not sure). Recently we had some power surge issues that killed my roommate's cpu and caused my pc to act alarmingly strange until turned off - though mine seems to have survived intact and booted up normally now that we have it on a big beefy PSU tower. When we were cleaning the dust out of my pc, we found a black plastic peg; couldn't identify any visible place it could be missing from. (Pic: http://m.imgur.com/8xHDswI ) it was rattling around loose in the case afterwards, so we opened and took it out. Now when the pc boots up, it briefly makes a high pitched metallic wooshing sound not typical for any of its fans. I am worried it's the gpu, and afraid to fire up any games in case it spins up and breaks something. The graphics card and such are very difficult to access though, due to the way this microtower is built - prebuilt with heavily screwed-together metal partitions that really connect all of its "guts" together in such a way that to access the gpu would mean pulling just about everything out of the machine...which is quite intimidating to a novice like myself. But because I can't see a place for the plastic peg in the cpu fan (though it looks like the same type of black plastic) I'm wondering if it came from underneath that hard-to-reach bit? If anyone recognizes the peg as a part of something, please let me know! The pc is working for web browsing atm (roommate is on it - hence no pics of the inside for a bit) but if this is something critical that it should be taken to a shop for, I'd rather be on the safe side! Apologies for paragraphing.


Edited by Christina9713, 07 October 2016 - 01:17 AM.


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#2 Viper_Security

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Posted 06 October 2016 - 06:42 PM

That Small peg looks like it goes in either the CPU HeatSink or the Chassis. (Mostly Likely Chassis) 

 

and there seems to be a spring and a smaller black piece that goes to it as well, did those fall out?

 

 

Here is a pic for example(it is not my picture) 

 

http://imgur.com/pUhSgtH


Edited by Viper_Security, 06 October 2016 - 06:46 PM.

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#3 JohnC_21

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Posted 06 October 2016 - 06:47 PM

Seems somebody else had the same problem.

 

http://en.community.dell.com/owners-club/alienware/f/3746/t/19591553?pi21932=2

 

Some additional info here along with a pic. Possibly from the GPU Vram heatsink.

 

https://www.reddit.com/r/Alienware/comments/4jjoyc/spring_came_loose_in_alienware_x51_r2_along_with/


Edited by JohnC_21, 06 October 2016 - 06:55 PM.


#4 Christina9713

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Posted 06 October 2016 - 07:05 PM

I didn't see any other loose parts, though that metal spring looks dangerous. I guess I'll have to open it and dig around to make sure that's not floating around in there. I'm not against buying a new graphics card...my Nvidia GeForce gtx 660 has been a little wonky from the get-go, with occasional fps issues playing WoW, unable to run Shadowplay and crashes every once in a while. I'll definitely have to make sure I get those other pieces out, though, before replacing it. I'll update if and when I locate the other pieces.

#5 Christina9713

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Posted 06 October 2016 - 07:29 PM

We found the spring, but not the small plastic piece. It did indeed come from part of the gpu...looks like it was anchoring the gpu fan to the case. The small plastic piece looks small enough judging by pictures that it could have fallen out through the ventilation grid when we were moving it...though I inspected the carpets and couldn't find it. Pics of where the screw was hiding and where it was from (notice there's one spring on the left but missing from the right side): http://m.imgur.com/4zQFIQQ,EkwSUC9,q3V28DI

 

Edit: These were just showing where the spring had landed when we found it: 
http://i.imgur.com/q3V28DI.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/EkwSUC9.jpg

 

Worth noting to anyone with a similar problem - it may be coincidence, but the computer was also having startup issues earlier in the week, which we blamed on the power surges that zapped my roommate's CPU (prior to us getting much better surge protection). It might have nothing to do with the fan breaking down, but putting it out there for informative purposes. The computer was struggling to boot, turning on with all lights/fans, then shutting off without a beep from the mobo; restarting by itself, cycling over and over, never able to make it to the POST stage, eventually turned off and unplugged to make it stop. The computer booted successfully from a different outlet with 0 issues, no strange sounds and total "amnesia" as to whatever power event was happening to it earlier. It was after cleaning the dust out of it and plugging it into our new PSU that we found these loose pieces flying around causing trouble. As far as I can tell, no one was rough with the PC during cleaning to cause any parts to snap off - we also hadn't even touched that area and thought it was inaccessible until doing some more research later.


Edited by Christina9713, 07 October 2016 - 01:15 AM.


#6 Christina9713

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Posted 06 October 2016 - 07:31 PM

Another update (not seeing an option to edit - sorry!) the pc booted up without making the strange noise, now that the spring is out. We think the vibrating spring caused the noise.

#7 JohnC_21

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Posted 06 October 2016 - 07:47 PM

Thanks for the image showing the pin missing from the heatsink fan. This will help other people that may land on BC doing a Google search on the problem.



#8 Christina9713

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Posted 06 October 2016 - 07:59 PM

Yeah, I figured. Also - random shutdown :( We got maybe 3-4 minutes of WoW out of it before the whole thing abruptly shut off, as though the plug were pulled, and would not immediately turn back on. Possible overheating gpu? We're going to let it cool off, then use the on-board graphics instead. Seems like the gpu is just nonfunctional this way, though :/ edit: It was fine for just web browsing for quite a while, only had issue when running a graphics-intensive (relative) game.

 

Edit: This video at 12 seconds in shows the fan in question. https://youtu.be/IZ3NPkHGs94?t=12s

Is that fan blowing on both the hard drive and GPU? After the above mentioned crash, it took at least ~45 minutes before the computer would turn on again. When it did, it warned that Windows did not start properly and started checking the hard drive for errors. It seems to be working all right now.

How critical is this fan here? Not sure if it's supposed to be paired with the GPU (which I'm considering replacing with an upgrade) or if it belongs in the case, period. Because a peg is out of it, I'm guessing it didn't work properly and the GPU overheated, causing a shutdown. I guess my question is whether it would be okay to toss this fan out when I get a new gpu, or if I should be worried with repairing/fixing the fan itself?


Edited by Christina9713, 07 October 2016 - 12:31 AM.


#9 JohnC_21

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Posted 06 October 2016 - 08:02 PM

I forgot to mention there is an edit link next to the multiquote button. It's kind of invisible until you mouse over it.



#10 Chris Cosgrove

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Posted 07 October 2016 - 05:50 PM

As JohnC said, there is an edit button at the bottom right of each and every post and you can edit any post you have made within 24 hours of making it. After that you either need to PM a moderator or use the 'Report' button (to the left of the 'Edit' button) to get a post edited.

 

Unless you have given some seriously wrong advice in a post and don't notice it for over 24 hours it is probably simpler just to add a new post after that time.

 

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#11 Viper_Security

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Posted 07 October 2016 - 06:04 PM

Most Fans are blowing out of the case/chassis, eg, it takes the "dormant" heat from inside the machine and blows it out, which is why most machines will have dust in between the front panel and the front of the case.

 

Some do however go in and out, eg, strategic fans can blow air in/on something and another fan could take the air that was blown in and push it out, kind of like a cycle (basically).

 

but since heat rises and that machine is on it's side id guess the fan is blowing onto the hdd to keep it cooler, and you can replace the fan itself if you'd like, you just need to know the size in mm (i believe). 

 

and the fan didn't look like a GPU or CPU fan so it should be normal size (40-60mm i believe) the GPU should have it's own fan/heatsink.


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#12 JohnC_21

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Posted 07 October 2016 - 06:24 PM

Yeah, I figured. Also - random shutdown :( We got maybe 3-4 minutes of WoW out of it before the whole thing abruptly shut off, as though the plug were pulled, and would not immediately turn back on. Possible overheating gpu? We're going to let it cool off, then use the on-board graphics instead. Seems like the gpu is just nonfunctional this way, though :/ edit: It was fine for just web browsing for quite a while, only had issue when running a graphics-intensive (relative) game.

 

Edit: This video at 12 seconds in shows the fan in question. https://youtu.be/IZ3NPkHGs94?t=12s

Is that fan blowing on both the hard drive and GPU? After the above mentioned crash, it took at least ~45 minutes before the computer would turn on again. When it did, it warned that Windows did not start properly and started checking the hard drive for errors. It seems to be working all right now.

How critical is this fan here? Not sure if it's supposed to be paired with the GPU (which I'm considering replacing with an upgrade) or if it belongs in the case, period. Because a peg is out of it, I'm guessing it didn't work properly and the GPU overheated, causing a shutdown. I guess my question is whether it would be okay to toss this fan out when I get a new gpu, or if I should be worried with repairing/fixing the fan itself?

That looks like a standard case fan. I originally thought this was the GPU fan. You should replace the fan if you see it failing. Substitute screws for the pins.

 

See this thread and the post by ejohnson. The page links to another thread here. On the page search for Modification on the front intake PCIe fan. Just accessing and replacing the fan looks like a major chore.



#13 Christina9713

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Posted 07 October 2016 - 08:38 PM

Wow, that does look horrible. Any estimates on how much it should cost to have someone else replace the fan for me? I just know I'd ruin something if I had to take that much stuff apart. Thank you so much for the references btw, I appreciate it!!

#14 JohnC_21

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Posted 07 October 2016 - 08:59 PM

I could not hazard a guess on how much it would cost. A good repair shop should be able to give you quote. I tried to find a service manual for the X51 that the linked page posted images of  but there seems to be different versions of the X51. 






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